Reductions in SpEd para staffing – 2016-17 and 2017-18 compared, from SFUSD’s own data

Last May, UESF held a rally as an early stage of our contract campaign.  About 700 people turned out, as I recall, and many of them were really angry about the Sped staffing consolidations that had just been announced at many school sites.  This was a burning issue for many UESF members.  How could SFUSD justify reducing support for the most vulnerable students, when it was already impossible to provide them with the services they needed with the resources provided?  SpEd teachers and paras often make up the difference by just working even harder!  Anyone who has worked in a school knows that the SpEd teachers jobs are insanely difficult and every year they get harder, and now the district was reducing para support as well!

Here is a cropped image of the spreadsheet comparing the staffing numbers for the two years, with some lines hidden to make it fit in a screenshot.  The full spreadsheet and the original data file are linked here.sped para staffing comparison 1617 to 1718 cropped.jpg

The “job code desc” that are listed in the data file can’t be actual job positions because there weren’t 2789 paras working in SFUSD last year.   Again it seems that SFUSD has found a way to answer my query while kind of muddying the answer.  Any help and suggestions are welcome.

 

A useful blog about the mining of public education for profit

“Wrench in the Gears” is a blog that I highly recommend.   When I read something written by Alison McDowell, the author, I think, “Wow, that’s really creepy and scary, I wonder if it’s true?” and then within a week that very issue will have popped up here in SF.

She is a Philadelphia public school parent who researches the “Ed-Tech Colonization” of public schools in Phillie and elsewhere.

Please check it out.

Wrench in the Gears A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum

screens-faces wrench in the gears

philadelphia-social-impact-investing wrench in the gears

SFUSD nearly tripled money spent on top administrators between 2009 and 2018

The table below briefly summarizes how SFUSD has increased the number of top administrators and increased their pay as well, from 2009 to 2018.  Notes and methodology follow the table.

SFUSD top salaries w detail

Highlights:

In Row #8, you can see that going from the 2016-17 to the 2017-18 school year, while pleading poverty during contract negotiations with all its unionized employees, and while significantly reducing services to its special education students, SFUSD increased the number of “top administrative positions” by 35 and the amount of money spent on those salaries by almost 4 million dollars!  That’s almost enough for a one percent raise for all UESF members!  Shouldn’t those millions be spent on the classroom rather than on central office “suits”?  What do they do to serve San Francisco students that is worth that much?

Row #2 shows the year when the impact of the 2008 recession was felt the most in SFUSD’s budget.   The savings due to six fewer positions is cancelled out by an average seven percent raise for those remaining!   These are the years when teachers and paraprofessionals took furlough days and the security guards had their hours reduced permanently by an hour a day!  Less for those who actually work directly with students and more for 555 Franklin St.!

By comparing rows #1 and #8, you can see that both the numbers of top administrators and the amount spent on their salaries has almost tripled over nine years.  These figures show a clear trend – UPWARDS!

The average annual “raises” are estimates.  I removed one or two outliers, and otherwise took an average, without being sure whether the pay increases of individuals were due to promotions or due to pay increases for the same positions.   However, these central office employees got decent to great pay increases every year, considerably more than those who work directly with students!  This reveals that SFUSD’s priorities are not the classroom!

Caution:  Two data sets were obtained by public record requests from SFUSD, and used as received.   This can be used to see a clear general trends and patterns (UPWARD), but further work is needed to find out more particulars.   Here and here are the raw data files.  I made a specific request for people who were administrators, but SFUSD gave me ALL salaries for everyone who works at 555 Franklin (or is considered central office staff but might work elsewhere) for all six years in one big file!

Methodology:  Intrepid fighting teachers from Balboa HS got the first data set in 2013, and I got the second one this past December.  I used the following criteria to select the top paid administrators and then I took care that the analysis is internally consistent (compares apples to apples).  First, if an individual was included in the first data set, then I continued to include that job title when I chose job titles to include from the second data set.  Second, I sorted each year by salary, and dropped everyone making less than $83,000 (in 2013), then went back and added back in a few people who made less than the cutoff but had the included job title, and finally removed folks with high salaries who’s job title suggested they actually did stuff , like asbestos abatement or statistics.  Sorry that’s my bias, but I have been consistent.   It is only two data sets and surely contains errors, for which I apologize.  I spent many hours working on this.

 

 

 

 

 

SFUSD HR contracts with Walton Foundation-funded Bellwether Education Partners for “evaluation and performance support services”

SFUSD spark minutes 10 2017 re bellwether HR evaluation closeup.jpg

This screenshot (shown above) is from the minutes of the Nov 9, 2017 meeting of  SPARK-SF Public Schools.   According to their website:  “Spark*SF Public Schools serves as a central structure for investing directly in the big changes we need to prepare our students to compete and thrive in today’s world.”  In other words they coordinate the funding for SFUSD’s Vision 2025.   More on Vision 2025 later.  Its first stage is the Middle School Redesign being rolled out this year.

The above item from the SPARK meeting minutes is disturbing because:

ONE:  SFUSD Human Resources will be receiving “evaluation and performance support services” from Bellwether Education Partners.  Here is a blog post on the Bellwether website under Issues > Teacher Quality, that calls for MORE teacher evaluation based on test scores!   Briefly looking around under their Issues menu heading I can see they support for many other right wing initiatives, for example, “pension reform”.   When I look up Bellwether Education Partners Inc. at littlesis.org (opposite of Big Brother), I find that  they are wholly funded by the Walton Foundation.  No friends of ours!

TWO.  “Evaluation and performance support” is a “key initiative prioritized by” Superintendent Matthews.  Why is this a priority?  Where does this priority come from?  A priority for whom?  I think other issues are a burning priority, for example, adequate staffing.

THREE:   The sequence of steps goes like this:  Corporate money comes in (from LinkedIn), SPARK chairperson requests that $25K of this money go to meet SFUSD HR’s “need” for “evaluation and performance support services”, HR has already identified Bellwether through “appropriate procurement channels”, HR signs contract with this anti teacher organization to “improve” teacher evaluations, which means make evaluations dependent on student test scores, SPARK pays Bellwether directly and then HR reports outcomes directly to corporate sponsor.   Why report the outcomes directly to the corporate sponsor?  Are they determining policy?

FOUR:  What exactly does “evaluation and performance support” mean?  When does it roll out?   We need to see these documents!  UESF needs to be part of this decision to possibly change how evaluations are carried out.   Maybe UESF has been , but I doubt it.  AND UESF members and UBC’s need to be fully informed what to look out for.  Does this violate our contract?

FIVE:   While claiming poverty, somehow SFUSD has the money to hire the administrators to coordinate things like this.

SIX:  This seems sneaky and like a good reason to keep a close eye on Superintendent Matthews.  Are these our priorities?  The tax-payer’s priorities?  SFUSD parent’s priorities?  Our elected School Board members priorities?  I don’t remember being part of this decision.

 

Personal contact info, UESF communications, and building reps

UESF communications are at a low point, for a bunch of reasons.  Here is part of the story, based on my personal experience and efforts working within the union.   I don’t just stand around and criticize, and I’m avoiding naming individuals.

  1.  The union has a legal relationship with its members, part of which is access to their personal contact information.   As an minority member of the Exec Board and as an outreach worker for UESF, I have argued frequently for greater support for building reps and UBC members who do the day to day union work while teaching!  As recently as last spring UESF shared the rosters and contact info of UESF members at each site with the building reps (because I requested it for the sites to which I was assigned).  This year I was told it was okay to share just the names of UESF members at school sites, but not their personal contact info, but even this was never carried out, despite my repeated requests.   UESF leadership is currently drawing a very conservative line as to who is the union, I think due to fears about controlling the message and also due to internal factionalism (not wanting the other side to have a win).  I think building reps, who are elected, should be included and have access to those contacts!  I know from my experience as BR at Balboa HS, it takes a lot of doing to locate everyone in the building, in particular the paras and itinerant workers.  The union database should be used to help with this.
  2. Elected Building reps and UBC members should be trusted with the union work and encouraged to communicate and share with each other.  This has been promised by UESF leadership for the last 3 years, but again, never happens.  Other unions have pass-word protected sections of the union website that allow BR to communicate with each other.  Some unions have databases of grievances filed.  I requested access to the UESF grievance database several years ago and first they lied about it and then they admitted that it didn’t exist.  It would be so useful to know what has been grieved in the past and what has worked what has not, to be informed, instead of every BR having to start from a place of ignorance and figure it out on their own.
  3. The Division meetings fulfill some of the need for info and communications.  But, again, they need to be done better.  Again, in my dual role within UESF, I tried to improve communications around the divisions.  Here is what I argued for (the division chairs agreed but it was never carried out, because they are working teachers as well, and communication is not prioritized by the leadership):   a work order be given to the membership secretary (who does great work!) to list and provide the contacts for all BR to the appropriate division chairs so that the email lists they use are complete!  UESF outreach workers should spend time with each BR explaining how the divisions work, and the union leadership should make this kind of outreach a priority!  Every month there should be a call for agenda items sent out, and then the agenda shared with ALL BR for that division, and then the minutes from the meeting and the agenda for the following meeting with the asst superintendent shared and then the minutes from that meeting shared out again.  Its basic, it would be SO useful, and it is the responsibility of the leadership to make it happen.  there should be a password protected place on the UESF website that BR can access that has past minutes of division meetings.  I think decades of neglect have allowed these union structures to become rusty and forgotten and weak.

SFUSD central office administrative salaries – a few things we know

Here are some things we know and some questions we are asking.

One.  Last summer UESF filed some Request for Information (public documents) with SFUSD.  One result was,

“The combined salaries of the top thirteen administrators equals 2.6 million dollars per year”,

which is more than half of the 4.2 million needed to pay for a one percent pay raise for all UESF members.  What has happened with this information during the bargaining?

Two.  Intrepid Balboa HS teachers filed an RFI several years ago on administrative salaries.  My analysis of those figures shows that during the economic crash years of 2009-10 to 2010-11,  a few central admin took pay raises, some took 2% pay cuts and most had no change to their salaries.   This is good,

but during that same time all educators took four furlough days, which is about a 4% pay cut.  And it was during that year that the SFUSD tricked the T-10’s into giving up an hour a day, a 14% pay cut on top of also taking the furlough days!!

Then in the following year, according to the figures, administrators got, on average, a 7% salary increase!  UESF members continued to live with a pay cut due to continued furlough days, and there were lay-offs (as far as I remember).  The T-10’s loss of an hour per day became permanent!!  This unfair!

Three.  I have made a new request for public records, which I’m told will be completed by mid December.  My apologies for not doing it sooner!!  I asked for the 555 Franklin admin salaries for the years 2011-12, 2012-2013, 2013-14, and 2014-15, and will analyze them to see who got pay raises and if the number of positions increased, and share what I find out.

Four.  During bargaining, the UESF team was advised by researchers from the CFT and CTA, our state affiliates.  At the UESF assembly meeting, someone requested that this financial info be shared with the UESF membership, and the leadership replied that they had to put getting the ballots out first, before posting the information.

Ballots before information!

 

What UESF members want: results of the Listening tour, the bargaining survey and LCAP community meetings

What UESF members want (info from three sources):

  1. Bargaining survey of Nov 2016 –  I worked on this as an area rep.  We tried hard to get as many UESF members personal emails as we could, so that they could respond electronically.  The election committee and the UESF office staff made it a priority to update the database ASAP.  (Unfortunately, based on my experience as an area rep,  this year UESF is not updating the database well at all).  In addition to mailing them out, efforts were made to get the paper surveys to those UESF members without emails on file.  Leadership of UESF decided to keep the results of the survey secret, with the rationale of not revealing their hand to the district at the table. Executive board members got to see it briefly during a meeting.  In the open response section UESF members made thousands of comments, but I’m not sure anyone besides Lita took the time to read them.  So who knows what our priorities were!
  2. UESF Listening Tour of 2015– UESF staff, officers and volunteers had open ended conversations with members at over 60 school sites, and the results from 30 of those sites was compiled into a report.  UESF members have four clear concerns:  A) affordability (need a pay raise),  B) Implementation of Safe and Supportive Schools resolution and student discipline (SFUSD needs to provide the resources to carry out this mandate properly instead of just putting it back on individual teachers), C)  Special Education staffing and support (SFUSD needs to put more resources into these programs), and D) workload issues and growing expectations and duties placed on educators.
  3. Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Close the Gap Coalition Town Hall, May, 2015:   Participants chose three priorities to improve schools.  This meeting was part of the community stakeholders input into the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which is how California distributes money to local school districts.   A)  A para and teacher in every classroom,   B)  A safe alternative learning space for students, C)  A family engagement plan including time for educators and parents to develop relationships.